Introduction to Holistic Pet Care

Pets continue to be popular in our society, yet the reasons we have them is changing. No longer are our dogs, cats, and horses "working" for their keep, they have become trusted companions and family members.

They enjoy the comforts of our homes, and in recent years the benefits of improved health care and specifically holistic veterinary care.

Holistic veterinary care, like that of human care, looks at the "whole", not just isolated parts. It focuses on resolving the cause and the problem, not just alleviating symptoms. Overall improvement of the quality of life and living is the goal. In addition to western approaches, such as antibiotics (drugs) and surgery, holistic approaches include acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic, herbology, Bach flower remedies, and nutritional therapy.

A major key in holistic veterinary care is that the doctor looks at the whole picture. Most will take a detailed background of the animal--medical being just a part. They will look at the environment the animal came from and where it is now, any recurrent problems and their pattern, and the pet's relationship with its owner (and family members). From this information the veterinarian, with the owner, can work to pinpoint causes and develop appropriate and feasible treatment plans. The plan may include several approaches and phases with optimum health as its goal. An example may be that the pet receives an antibiotic for a severe infection, acupuncture for improved healing and well-being, and an improved diet.

Holistic veterinary care in the Western world is still in its infancy. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, based in Maryland, was just founded in 1981. And more recently in 1988, acupuncture was recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Both veterinary acupuncturist and chiropractors have formed their own organizations to help educate and create awareness of the alternatives available in veterinary care. Homeopathic veterinarians participate in the National Center for Homeopathy.

Holistic pet care has come along way in just a short time, but it still has a way to go to be accepted and utilized by more pet owners.